Friday, January 25, 2019

When in Boracay: Discovery Shores Boracay

I've been so excited to go back to Boracay after hearing that the island is back in shape. As a place I associate with relaxation and good food, R and I decided to celebrate our anniversary there. And to make things a bit more special, we stayed at Discovery Shores Boracay

Hello, Discovery Shores Boracay.
Hailed as one of the best luxury resorts in the island, Discovery Shores Boracay is usually fully booked with local and foreign tourists alike. I can't blame travelers though as this place offers top notch service and its pandan water is something else!
Though coordinating with the Manila reservations team could be a pain with its week-long delay in replies, its Boracay guest services team replies within minutes! 
Archie of Discovery Shores Boracay was right in front of the entrance of Caticlan arrival area and greeted us with a smile. He gave us welcome bracelets and offered some candies as we wait for the other couple riding the van with us. 
We then transferred to a speed boat that will bring us to Boracay island. There, we were offered cold towels, water and packed otap. The ride was about 5 minutes long. 
From the jetty port, we rode another van that will bring us to the resort. The ride this time was about 20-30 minutes long as Boracay's back roads are still in bad shape. 
We were welcomed by the concierge staff with more drinks and cold towel. And Angela ushered us to the Great Room, reception exclusive for Signature Suite guests instead of going to Guest Services by Sands Restaurant which is about 300 meters away.
After accomplishing some forms, we were set! However, we arrived 2 hours too early and our room was still being prepared for us. Instead of waiting in the lounge, Angela offered to give us a quick tour of the new area of Discovery Shores. 
Our first stop was Forno, an Italian restaurant that opened last November, the same time as the launch of the Signature Suites and 360 Deck.
The 360 Deck is exclusive for Signature Suite guests and it has a lovely view of the island and sea. 
You can enjoy your breakfast here in the morning and drinks to welcome the evening. 
There are a few jacuzzis as well as lounge chairs perfect for sunbathing with a bit more privacy.
Our room was ready after the quick tour and we were guided to our Junior Suite (PHP15,000-17,000 per night). 
The room was very spacious with a king size bed in the center.
It is equipped with a lounge sofa, cable TV, iPod/iPhone dock, Nespresso machine, electric kettle, safe, flat iron and board, en suite bathroom with rain shower, and veranda.
I was pleasantly surprised with some of the personal touches done by the team such as printing one of my photos and placing it on the desk putting their tagline "welcome home" in a whole different level. 
There's also a Happy Anniversary banner on one side and Welcome Home banner on the other. 
We also got two complimentary cakes, one as a welcome token and one to celebrate our anniversary. 
Looks great right?
We also got a Discovery Shores tote bag and sunblock.
I thought of upgrading our room the following day to a suite with a jacuzzi but after seeing how spacious our room was and the nice view we have of the beach, R and I decided to stick with our suite. We would rather be at the beach than in a jacuzzi anyway.
Before taking a quick afternoon slumber, we availed of Discovery Shores foot wash (included in the room rate). 
Now that's a relaxing start! 
As we prepare to head down for an afternoon swim, we were given a plate of mangoes and bananas as another welcome present. 
We passed by the pool area to grab some small bites before hitting the beach. 
And they sometimes serve cold treats!
I also availed of Sands' tempting Happy Hour promo where a glass of Sangria is priced at PHP195. 
Boracay became a lot stricter after the island's closure as beach chairs have to be at a certain distance from the shore line and that floaters are no longer allowed to be used in the sea. As a non-swimmer, I had to wear a... life jacket. It may look lame but safety first!
There weren't a lot of tourists on weekdays so it was a pleasant day to be at the beach. 
Since there are no beach chairs to use, Discovery Shores offer beach mats and pillows for guests to use. 
Oh, the downside of waiting for the sun to go down and be more forgiving? It leaves you to enjoy frigid water. Standing won't do. Its cold temperature will force you to swim (or attempt to swim) around.

Our bed was made up when we got back to our room but noticed that our pitcher of pandan water and plain water were not refilled. Guest services was quick though to give us new ones. 
We were also given a complimentary plate of egg tarts.
Tired from waking up early for our flight, we ended up sleeping early. It was cut short though by this weird scratching sound outside. Turns out the bamboo sticks that block the windows were hitting the rail. R reported it to Guest Services and we were impressed that they trimmed the bamboo within a few hours!
Wide awake, we tried to stay up till sunrise. And failed. We headed back to bed 2 hours later and woke up just in time for breakfast. 
Contrary to the reviews we've read about Discovery Shores breakfast scene, there were still a lot of food to go around at 8:45 a.m. (last call is 9:45 a.m.). 
I got breakfast staples scrambled eggs, sausages, tapa, bacon, congee, and garlic rice. I also could not resist getting a plate of smoked salmon and cheese. 
R and I both got cappuccino as well. (Note: It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for your cup of joe to be served so make sure to request for one asap if you want to enjoy it with your meal.)
Fruits are the hottest items in the spread so grab a plate of your favorite sweets if you see some in the buffet. 
Breakfast service was great. Despite the crowd, all staff approach us with a smile. If I were to pinpoint fault, I guess it would be that instance when I requested for mushroom and cheese omelet and it was never served.
The heavy meal made us nap and woke up late afternoon, just in time for another dip. 
Come night time, we got Puto Pao as a treat. 
We got Pichi-Pichi the night after.
The next two breakfasts were pretty much the same. The only difference is that we discovered that Yakult is part of the spread! (We thought some of the guests brought it themselves.)
On our last night, we decided to have dinner at Forno. We also figured that it would be a good option as the restaurant's air conditioned meaning, less chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes. 
We initially ordered Rib Eye for two but read not so good review about it and changed it to Lobster Carbonara (PHP780) and Spaghetti Nero (PHP660). We also got Tomato and Basil Soup (PHP290) for starter.
While waiting for our meal, we were given some warm crostini and olive oil with balsamic vinegar which surely whet our appetite. 
The soup of the day was a bit pricey considering its serving. With less than half the bowl filled, it seemed like we didn't get our money's worth. But its thick texture and rich flavor made us think otherwise.

The two pasta dishes were served after and we realized that one pasta dish is just good for one, not two.
I took a huge mouthful of my white sauce pasta and it was one creamy piece of heaven. Made with duck eggs, parmesan cheese and crispy panchetta, balanced by lemon zest and basil oil, each bite is bursting with this lovely milky flavor with a tangy kick. I love that they did not scrimp on lobster meat. Each mouthful gets two or three bits of it making this dish worth the price. However, we found it hard to finish this dish as it tends to be too cloying halfway through the meal.
We were told that Spaghetti Nero is one of their bestsellers and one forkful of it made us understand why. It was fantastic! The heavily coated with squid ink spaghetti topped with limited but fresh Selva Shrimp, New Zealand mussels and Ricotta Salata cooked with olive oil is my kind of carbs! The rich and bold flavor of aged cheese and briny taste of the seafood complemented each other giving my taste buds a gastronomic orgasm. But just like the lobster carbonara, this dish tends to be cloying too so best to order another dish, preferably meat, to go with this. Or perhaps a glass of wine?

Service at Forno was great. The staff would refill our glasses without us asking for it and they are quick with guests' requests. I guess the only thing missing at Forno is that there is no house music playing making it rather too quiet when there are not a lot of guests around.
We requested if we could check out a bit later as our flight back to Manila was at 4 p.m.. Discovery Shores had high occupancy during our stay but accommodated our request and allowed us to stay till 1 p.m.. 
If your flight is also late in the afternoon, fret not as guests can still enjoy Discovery Shores Boracay's amenities even after check out. So feel free to lounge by the pool or have your kids watch some cartoon at the play room.
And speaking of amenities, here are other facilities and services you can enjoy at Discovery Shores Boracay:
The gym is near the pool area. Though small, it has enough equipment for a complete workout. 
There is a complimentary shuttle service from Discovery Shores Boracay to Station 2 and 3. Just get in touch with Guest Services for availability. Note that there is no fixed schedule for this so best to arrange your trip ahead.
Terra Spa is Discovery Shores Boracay's in house spa. It is on the second floor of Sands. 
Checking out was a breeze. It took less than 5 minutes for them to check our account. And our trip back to Caticlan airport was just as pleasant as our trip to the resort. We were well assisted and the staff made sure that were comfortable throughout the short transfer.
Discovery Shores Boracay is indeed a pricey option for accommodation but its top notch service, spacious rooms, hassle-free airport transfer, shuttle service and less crowded beach makes it worth every penny.
Discovery Shores Boracay is located at White Beach Station 1, Aklan. Visit www.discoveryshoresboracay.com for reservation and details.

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